All Community Benefit Societies register their Constitution with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Later, any changes have to amended by 75% vote of the members before being put forward to the FCA for amendment. Here is a summary of the rules of this Society, with the full document attached in .pdf format
The Goals of the Society
These were agreed by the steering group when the Society was registered, and concern the protection of historic assets on the Shotley Peninsula (Rule 4).
The group has chosen Shotley Pier as the first and main focus.
Acceptance of New Members
All applications are dealt with by the Board of Directors, which has discretion to make enquiries regarding potential money laundering issues. Acceptance of members is at the discretion of the Board of Directors and no reason need be given for declining acceptance. People under the age of 16 cannot be accepted as members unless they are inheriting shares (Rule 15).
Members will take part in decision making
By applying for membership, people agree to take an active part in making decisions whether by attending general meetings or other participation (Rule 17).
Minimum and Maximum Shareholding
The current policy on shareholding will be stated on the membership application at the time of applying to join, as this changes according to regulation and policy (Rule 22).
Current Minimum is one share ( £25)
Current Maximum is four hundred shares (£10,000)
One member – one vote
It doesn’t matter how much someone invests, they get one vote. (Rule 61).
Members can vote in person, and by alternative means such as appointing a proxy, voting by post, text, email or other such method approved by the Board of Directors (Rule 61).
Non Transferable Shares
Community Shares cannot be sold to other people. The only transfer of shares happens on death, when a beneficiary could inherit the community shares. (Rule 21 and 26).
Withdrawable Shares but within strict limits
In theory, members could request to withdraw their community share deposits. However, as the rules allow, the Board can restrict the withdrawal of shares and has already stated there will be no withdrawals permitted for at least 5 years, to be reviewed by the Board in 2021. When a withdrawal policy is created, there will be limits on withdrawals and a fair policy created. (Rule 27).
No Dividend will ever be paid
As a Charitable Society, the rules ban the payment of a dividend. If a profit is made, it would be re-invested in the charitable work the Society does. (Rule 112).
No Interest payable for at least 5 Years
The Society could, in theory, pay interest to shareholders. However, to ensure that people are investing in community shares mainly to help the project, the Board has stated that there will be a minimum of 5 years before considering payment of interest, this will be reviewed in 2021. Prioritising the payment of interest will always rank behind wise management of the Society, but may be necessary to attract investors at some point . (Rule 111).
Members are requested to name one or more beneficiaries who would inherit their community shares. These can be passed direct to the beneficiary outside of probate (Rule 21).